Loree Erickson on queercrip porn

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Interview by Sophia de Guzman

While pop culture slowly learns from sex positive movements, people like Loree Erickson are working to chip away at exclusivity in those movements. As the postdoctoral fellow at Ryerson’s School of Disability Studies and the producer of Want, an award-winning queercrip porn film, her work in research and porn has her challenging cultures of undesirability. The Eyeopener sat down with Erickson to hear about her work.

What are you researching here at Ryerson? 

Right now I’m focused on two streams; one is a one care collective, which is loosely defined as a community-initiated response to structural inequality and care needs. So, for example, I need help getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, organizing my sparkly things, taking care of my cat and just doing basic life stuff. And I get those needs met through a community of friends. It’s not just people coming and taking care of me; we are engaging in a caring relationship that is multidirectional. 

I also do work on cultivating a culture of resistance through queercrip porn—porn made for and by the queer and disabled community. Pretty much every class I have I teach a lesson on counter-public porn or porn that’s made by and for marginalized communities.

Why did you go into the porn industry?

So I had this moment with a best friend of mine, where I had just pierced my nipple. My friend was in a photography class and asked if they coud take a photo of me. That photo was one of the first times I had ever seen myself as sexy and desirable. It’s really powerful seeing yourself represented in a way that you haven’t before. I resolved then and there to become a porn star. Later, I took an activist video-making class, and that’s where I made the films Want and Sexxxy. I wanted people to be able to experience the desirability of disability. Even in the world of radical queer porn, I wasn’t seeing any visibly disabled people and so I was like, “Well, I guess I have to do this.” So, I did, and it was a truly transformative experience for me.

How do you feel about all the stigma around porn? 

We’re so freaked out about sex in so many ways, even though it’s everywhere. It is also about how mainstream porn and even some alternative porn work has caused a lot of harm with really oppressive representation. For my students, porn is objectification: when I’m teaching, people will say [my video screenings] are not porn because I clearly have agency. They’ll also say there’s no sex but there’s definitely sex, just not heterosexual, cisgender penis in heterosexual, cisgender vagina. That’s why I think porn is such a useful medium—because it gets right at the heart of strongly held beliefs, stereotypes and misconceptions about who’s desirable and who’s a sexual agent. 

Do you believe that porn is one of the best tools for marginalized communities to bring more inclusive ideas of desirability into the mainstream? 

I wouldn’t say that the goal is to come into the mainstream. For me, the goal is connected to transforming the way marginalized people and communities see themselves and think about themselves in order to mobilize folks to make structural and systemic change. It’s about exploding that idea of sexy as being something that relies on unsexy. I would say that [porn]’s not for everyone, though, for sure. So, I would say it’s just one avenue of expression. 

I really think of both porn and care collectives as two different, but not totally unconnected ways of queercrip survival strategies. For me, it’s very important that the self is always a part of a collective,  that you love disabled people and love yourself, and receive disability as creative and generous and generative and necessary for changing how we organize the world and how we treat people. 

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